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Osimhen, Chukwueze doubtful as Super Eagles eye Arsenal’s goalkeeper

By Christian Okpara
09 November 2023   |   4:19 am
Nigeria may be without forwards, Victor Osimhen and Samuel Chukwueze, when they host Lesotho in a 2026 FIFA World Cup qualifier at the Godswill Akpabio Stadium, Uyo.

Arthur Okonkwo

Nigeria may be without forwards, Victor Osimhen and Samuel Chukwueze, when they host Lesotho in a 2026 FIFA World Cup qualifier at the Godswill Akpabio Stadium, Uyo.

 
Osimhen and Chukwueze were expected to return to top action last weekend, but feelers from Italy say their clubs, Napoli and AC Milan respectively, have deferred that to give them adequate time to recuperate.
 
Napoli FC coach, Rudi Garcia, has announced the return of Osimhen, who has been out of action for almost a month following a hamstring injury.
According to Garcia, Osimhen was expected to return to training yesterday, but would miss the Champions League game against Union Berlin.
  
Osimhen copped an injury when Nigeria met Saudi Arabia in a friendly game on October 13 in Portugal. Speaking at the club’s media parley on Tuesday, Garcia said Osimhen would return to action on November 25, which is nine days after Nigeria’s game against Lesotho.
 
Also expected to miss the game is Chukwueze.  Chukwueze was an unused substitute when AC Milan hosted Paris St. Germain in a Champions League game on Tuesday, but the Super Eagles Manager, Jose Peseiro, said he would not risk the former Villarreal star in the game against Lesotho.
 
He said: “We wish to avoid any risks, so Samuel Chukwueze and Victor Osimhen will not be called up during the next break.
 
“I apologised deeply for their injuries; players are paid by their clubs, and we work with them on a regular basis.”
 
In Osimhen and Chukwueze’s absence, the Eagles’ attack will be spearheaded by Victor Boniface and Taiwo Awoniyi. Sadiq Umar, Chuba Akpom, Terem Moffi, the rejuvenated Paul Onuachu and new kid on the block, Akor Adams, could also be handed the opportunity to stake their claim to the team’s striker’s roles.
 
Meanwhile, the Super Eagles have taken their search for a credible goalkeeper to Arsenal, where Nigeria’s Arthur Okonkwo is one of the shot stoppers.
 
Super Eagles’ current number one goalkeeper, Francis Uzoho, has been under fire since his mistake in Portugal gifted Saudi Arabia a goal during an international friendly.
 
Peseiro recently recalled Udinese goalkeeper, Maduka Okoye, as the team continue their build up to the Cote d’Ivoire 2024 African Cup of Nations.
 
Okoye was Nigeria’s number-one goalkeeper at the 2021 Africa Cup of Nations in Cameroon, but he was hounded out of the team by fans, who blamed him for Nigeria’s ouster from the Cameroon 2021 African Cup of Nations by Tunisia.
 
According to reports, Okonkwo is one of the goalkeepers Nigeria Football Federation’s (NFF) Technical Director, Augustine Eguavoen, is trying to bring to the Eagles.
 
Okonkwo is currently on loan from Arsenal to Wrexham, where he has been the first choice goalkeeper this season. Eguavoen, according to sources in the NFF, has held talks with Okonkwo with a view to a possible call-up to the Nigeria national team in the future.
 
Okonkwo, who has played for England’s junior teams at all levels, qualifies to play for the Super Eagles through his Nigerian dad, Uba Okonkwo, from Anambra State.

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